Collect: “O God, whose blessed Son was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us the sons of God, and heirs of eternal life; Grant us, we beseech thee, that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves, even as he is pure; that, when he shall appear again with power and great glory, we may be made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where with thee, O Father; and thee, O Holy Ghost, he liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.”
Monday, November 19: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Princess Elizabeth of Hungary was born in 1207. As a result of a prophecy the night she was born, she was promised at age four to the son of Count Herman of Thuringia (Herman’s court poet said that a princess would be born that night who would be holy and would marry Herman’s son). The eldest son died and her betrothal was switched to the younger son, Ludwig. They were married in 1221, when Elizabeth was 14 and Ludwig was 21. Though their marriage was to only last for six years, it was happy and full of love. Three children were born to them. Elizabeth’s devotion to the Lord and her love for the poor actually brought her ridicule at court, though Ludwig always supported her. One time, Elizabeth was taking care of a dying leper. When her mother-in-law found out that Elizabeth had put the leper in her husband’s bed, her mother-in-law furiously stormed to get Ludwig. When Ludwig saw the leper in his bed, he was silent and then quietly said, “I see Christ Himself.” She was always trying to covertly feed the hungry or nurse the sick. According to a well-known story, Elizabeth had gathered bread in her mantle to take to the poor. Not knowing how to answer when asked by Ludwig and others what she was carrying, when Ludwig looked, roses and lilies miraculously fell out of her mantle. Sadly, Ludwig died of plague when Elizabeth was 20 and Elizabeth was driven from court. She then became a third order Franciscan, devoted to the poor and needy. But at the mercy of a confessor-priest who put almost sadistic demands on her, Elizabeth only lived for a short time, though she bore his demands with humility. She died at age 24, in the year 1231.
Tuesday, November 20: St. Hilda of Whitby
Born in 614 to the Northumbrian royal house and baptized at age 12 by Paulinus, Hilda devoted herself to the religious life at age 33 at the encouragement of Aiden of Lindisfarne (though the Venerable Bede tells us that her first years were also very nobly engaged in secular matters). She established and became the abbess first at Hartlepool and then at Whitby. She is most well-known for her work in helping to reconcile the people toward the 664 Synod of Whitby, which formally accepted the Roman tradition instead of keeping Celtic customs (though she herself was a Celt in her religious formation). Also known as an educator, Fr. John-Julian calls her the “midwife of all English literature” because of how she nurtured her Anglo-Saxon cowherd Caedmon’s gift of song. Her last seven years of life, Hilda had a wasting disease (probably Tuberculosis), but she never ceased from work. In her last hours on November 17, 680, she called her Sisters and Brothers to her. While she was still exhorting them to keep the peace of Christ among then, she died. Though she was a tremendous influence in the British church, these verses are among her only extant writings:
“Trade with the gifts God has given you.
Bend your minds to holy learning that you may escape the fretting moth of littleness of mind that would wear out your souls.
Brace your wills to action that they may not be the spoil of weak desires.
Train your hears and lips to son which gives courage to the soul.
Being buffeted by trials, learn to laugh.
Being reproved, give thanks.
Having failed, determine to succeed.
Friday, November 23: St. Clement of Rome
St. Clement was bishop of Rome and a key figure in the very early years of the church. His letter to the Corinthians is the oldest surviving Christian document besides the New Testament documents themselves. St. Ignatius wrote that Clement “saw the blessed apostles and talked with them; their preaching was still in his ears and their tradition before his eyes.” He was apparently one of St. Paul’s companions who came with Paul to Rome. When St. Peter ordained him bishop, Clement feared that the station would continue to be occupied by his predecessor. So, he stepped aside to follow the precedent of a bishop elected by clergy and the people. So, the bishop of Rome was first Linus, then, Cletus, then Clement himself. Clement wrote his letter because the Corinthians had apparently improperly deposed their leadership. Clement gave instructions to them concerning the leadership in the church and how authority should be appointed and succeed itself. Legend has it that Clement was banished to the Crimean stone quarries. He supposedly converted so many to Christianity (75 churches established) that his captors attached an anchor to his neck and drowned him in the sea.
- We’re starting to set our eyes on Advent. This post on Advent Plans gives an overview of all the resources that we have available on the Homely Hours. Here is a list.
- Also, have you printed out Bley’s beautiful church year (available for free): A Holy Year Calendar?
- Lastly, if you’d like to know more about the Homely Hours, check out this interview with Rachael Lopez!
Books to Buy or Borrow:
- Here are some of our favorite Advent/Christmas books (though we are in the midst of adding and updating this post).